Whether it’s due to financial availability, retirement, or better timing, a lot of people wait to travel the world when they’ve reached a mature or later stage in life.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and it makes sense. They’ve worked hard and deserve every bit of adventure they want in their life.
But at the same time, there are many reasons why traveling at an early age is desirable and why you should do it, especially if that wanderlust can be an adventurous learning and life-defining experience.
Here are nine reasons that can get you started traveling now:
1. It will help you decide what you want in life
It is common in human nature to not know what you really like until you experiment it. Traveling when young can be a great platform to diversify your experience early in life and discover what your purpose is in life.
Each country, each city, even each restaurant you might visit is an opportunity to experiment something different. It is better to realize your true desires and potential early in life rather than realize them when you think it’s too late.
2. Fewer physical attachments equals more freedom
As you grow, you start to settle your life with physical attachments like a mortgage, a car, and kids.
Traveling before this stage of your life will be much easier, and the freedom will be priceless. You will be able to travel for longer terms, more often, and with fewer preoccupations.
3. You’ll get street smart
It’s always good to compliment your “school smart” with some “street smart,” and there’s no better way to do this than traveling.
Traveling teaches you a wide variety of things that can be applied to your daily life –from the banalest to the most indispensable. When traveling, you acquire unique wisdom that is useful for your entire life.
4. It will make you a more interesting person
There is nothing more compelling than having a conversation with someone who has something to say. You will not be a blank canvas anymore; your travels will be part of your story as a person.
Traveling creates an exciting story in your life that is worthy of telling to all your friends. Not only your travel conversations can be of great interest, but they can also be eye-openers to other people.
At that point, you become an inspiration to those who would also like to explore the world.
5. You’ll grow culturally
Be it a different way of living, a religion, or simply anything foreign to you; when you travel, you get exposed to different cultures that can have a direct impact on your life.
Your tolerance will grow as you experiment them, and in many cases, you’ll learn how to see things from a different perspective. Every culture is different, and so is every person in it.
6. You’ll learn to develop your independence and how to be responsible
Traveling is one of the best ways to learn how to be independent.
When you travel, everything relies on you. Even if you travel on an organized trip, there is a certain degree of organizational skills, responsibility, and independence that you have to exert.
When traveling independently, you are responsible for finding the best airfare possible, booking your accommodation, finding local transportation, getting visas, keeping your passport up to date, and managing your money –it’s like an adulting crash course.
7. You learn how to manage your money early in life
There is nothing worse than being out on the road and running out of money. You feel like you’re lost and that the world is about to end. There is no financial comfort zone when you’re traveling; everything depends on you.
For that reason, traveling serves as a great “teaching lesson” on how to manage your finances. How so? Well, if you spend recklessly, you’ll see its effect on subsequent parts of your trip.
8. You won’t resent it later in life
There is nothing worse than reaching a later stage in life and regretting not doing something when you were young. Well, traveling is one of those.
There are many things to experience in this world, so why wait till later in life to enjoy them? There is no reason to spend your active young years just working. As they say, don’t live to work… work to live.
9. Because you deserve it!
Hell yeah! We all deserve to have a good time traveling and seeing what’s out there. There is no need to wait until later in life to start experiencing the world.
Don’t let the opportunity pass you by, explore the world while you’re young!
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I believe that growing culturally and becoming more open to other cultures is something essential. Travelling to places I never wanted to go before has taught me beautiful things about those countries / cultures that I used to have a bad impression about.
I won’t resent that I didnt do what I wanted before graduating. It has been a long time but the lessons I have learned are for life and the opportunities I have discovered by travelling are better, in my opinion, than any job I could have gotten 2 years ago.
Nice post! I have started one related to it. Got some inspiration now to finish and publish it!
Hey, thanks… That’s cool that you found some inspiration! That’s what this is for! 😀
Yeah, what you learn from your travels (in my opinion) is far better than what the daily grind of a job can teach you. It’s something practical… you don’t learned through a teaching method, you learn by true absorption.
If I had the chance I would have started traveling even sooner. But still, I’m glad I made the decision to finish my studies (something I highly encourage everyone) and then wander around in the world.
i beleive that there is nothing better then home sweet home 🙂
Well, nothing beats the warm feeling of home sweet home… still, I always crave hitting the road and living life through the randomness of different places and cultures. 🙂 I love working out a mix of both…
Of course you don’t REALLY know that, until you don’t have “Home Sweet Home” for a little while. You can think all you want, but until you experience other things, you don’t know for sure. I was raised in New York. Wonderful Beaver Cleaver upbringing, but I live in Texas now. LOVE sunshine and didn’t have that in NY. Gotta see some different things to really know what is best for you.
Well, you always learn as you live and get out of your comfort zone, so not having that “home sweet home” for a while will definitely make you see things in a different way.
That’s why I am going back home. After working for a year in France, studying for a year in the UK, travelling across 5 continents during these past 2 years, it is time to do a few more modules, my dissertation and get my degree. There is not much left and I gotta finish what i have started to move on to next steps. But travelling will always be my addiction (I believe).
Great Advise!!! I wish I have read this article 25 years ago!!!
Hey… It’s never too late to travel!
@TravelholicA That’s good that you’re going back to get your degree. I’m sure that once you finish it you will want to go back on the road.
Ditto… wish I read this 10 years ago. 🙂
It would be interesting to know the age demographic of readers of this post.
Even I, being 26 yrs old, wished I knew all that years ago.
Hmmm… now you made me wonder about the demographics. 😀
Great article, great reasons for traveling while you are young, but don’t forget a lot of those reasons work for any age. I (43 year old woman) am traveling around the world with my son (11 years old) and we’ve experienced all of those benefits and more over the last year of our travels.. The benefits of travel are really age non-dependent. Nevertheless, GREAT ARTICLE!
Thank you, Lainie. You’re totally correct. Those reasons work for any age, but some of them come great at an early age. I’m sure you and your son have experience lots of things on your travels. And I dare to guess that both of you have grown from those same experiences in your own unique ways. Like you said, you always learn when you travel – it is not age-dependent.
Right on! There is no need to travel only when you are young before having kids and a house and all that. The majority of people have the time but not the money to travel when young, and when you get older its vice versa. But over the years and a couple of years later you earn both the money and the time, so why not bring the kids. If one truly loves to travel they can make it a priority. Why not share that with your family? I know of a number of people that travel with kids and love it. I really enjoy travelling now and will continue to do so as often as I can.
At 60,we’re still travelling!
One other reason for travelling when young- particularly backpacking or independant travel- is that the sense of seeking adventure,facing a new challenge ,getting outside your comfort zone, stays with you.
Sure you’ll go through a stage of career,family, mortgage perhaps, and then you’ll be travelling again, because you’ve got the time and resources.
But in later years, many take off on travel again, but it’s aircon guided tours, or cruise travel.
And others once again take off adventure travelling again.
For example, of our core of close friends, none will travel to Africa with us.None will travel to Mongolia with us.
It happens so easily as we age that we pull our comfort zone closer around us and don’t realize it.
And the difference is, that when we were young we backpacked.None of the others did.
Point 6 merely touches on this point .
That travelling when young, forms your attitude to travel – keep pushing the limits. Keep challenging yourself.Keep learning.
Yes, It’s funny because I’m seeing those types of life transitions secondhand. My mom went through a travel phase many years ago, then to a “stable” phase, and is now again on a travel phase (at her 60’s). Sure, retirement helps a lot. But I’m glad she chose to wander again and explore more of what is outside the comfort zone. She might not be the ultimate adventurer at her age, but now she is traveling, exploring, and experimenting like never before. And one thing I can say for sure is that she is happier than ever by doing this.
As you get older, you can still travel as well! Things do become a little more difficult when you have kids. However, that’s when I think travel becomes that much more important – showing your kids the world and places you have already seen.
Traveling when you’re young is very important. These are very good reasons for traveling. However, I would also add that if you don’t travel young, you are less likely to do it when you are older. So traveling young is important to so that you are more likely to travel when you are older and things aren’t as easy.
Thanks Jeremy! You have two very good and valid points there. It’s good to travel later in life to share the experiences with your children and show them the world. But like you say, it is less likely you will travel when older if you don’t try it at a young age. It all comes to how important travel is and how does it plays on that person’s life.
I had to laugh when I saw this post because I immediately thought that I need to write a post with reasons to travel when you are (sorta) old!! Seriously, though, you have some good points. And now to write that response post…
Lol! Well, I guess these points also apply to “older” people! 🙂 Ha! Look forward to that response post…
Loved this post, and the list too! 🙂
I agee with almost every single point and if you really make me choose, 1, 2.4, 5, 6, 7, 8…alright, I told you I can’t!
When we are young, we don’t have to worry about the physcial, financial, emotional attachments; it’s true…yeah, we may have loans, house and car, but most of us are without kids yet. They are not a burden, of course, but with kids, there would be a lot more to consider when travelling and if you were to leave them at home, there comes the emotional attachment, right?
Cultural differences always fascinate me when I travel, and seriously, you no longer depend on textbooks, travel books or even travel programmes to tell you how the world looks like; you see them for yourself!! Meeting new people and sharing stories about our own countries just make it all very satisfying, and it is an enriching experience, not to mention that it increased our knowledge beyond ’em books;)
I agree that we become more independent as we are out there, with no one familiar to turn to or even run home when it does not work out. We have to plan our itinerary, find our way and even decide what to have and what goes within the budget.
It definitely changed my perspectives in life and that the world is indeed a big place out there, and compared to all the issues faced by people all over the places, there is nothing to our worries and anxieties anymore. It helps to define our personalities and create more inspirations for our aspirations in the future, and yes, we are more mature when we start to look at the BIG picture…after all, we have caught a glimpse of the BIG world out there, didn’t we? (I haven’t travel around the whole world yet;)
Wow, thank you so much Christy… I agree with everything you said! It’s a balancing act between the responsibilities we have when we are young versus the ones we gain later in life. But, there are definitely many advantages to travel when young. Among those, like you mentioned, is the fact that you can grow through travel and become and independent person since everything depends on you. I agree it helps define our personality since it is being influenced by so many new cultures and perspectives that let us see a bigger picture of the world. We end up being more educated and more considerate in so many aspects.
I couldn’t agree more with your first point as I wandered through life, like I was a little lost and not really knowing what I wanted in life.
I had gone straight from high-school, to university, and into the 9 – 5 environment, without really feeling like I accomplished much.
After traveling it definitely balanced my “school smarts” with my “street smarts”, and although I still don’t know what I want from life, I think i’m on the right path.
Great post! Looking forward to reading more about your adventures 🙂
Jeff, I kind of did the same after school… jumped straight to the 9-5. But now, I broke with that cycle, and like you said, the street smart has improved exponentially! We’ll always go on in life looking for something, so don’t feel bad because you still “don’t know” what you want. In fact, I think that’s one of the most interesting things… to experiment life in different ways until we find what we want. 🙂
Its never too late even when you are in your Seniors and better yet retired with all your children are graduates and working. I can say Ive done my job and its time I think of enjoying my modest life. Travelling is definitely in my checklist or some call it the “Bucket List”. While I can walk briskly and mobile, I should be off to a good start soon. Your comments and items are so helpful in remindiing me of what travels teaches us. Thanks for the wonderful article.
Thanks! Francis, it is never too late to travel. No matter our age, we will always be able to learn something about life, culture, and other things through our experiences while traveling.
Hi~ I read your article by chance,and I loved it.I can’t agree with you more!Travelling when young is quite popular in West countries.That’s why I can look up the words “Gap Year”and “Backpacker”in English,but can’t find similar words in Chinese until recent years .
Though it is more difficult to travel for Chinese young people than westerners,I stiil think more and more my contemporaries in China are on their roads of travelling.
Thanks for your article ! It encouraged me to strengthen the things what I really want to do!Yes!Travel when we are young!
Wing, I’m glad you loved the article and that you’re eager to be on the road too. I’m aware how Chinese young people might find it a bit more difficult to travel than for Westerners, but I’m glad that you point out that in recent years the numbers have been growing. I think travel is a great tool to learn, so why not do it while you’re young!
Becoming an interesting person and building your core is a great reason to travel. It will help you in many aspects of your career and personal life.
Of course, if you look at travel at a close-ended thing, it will always be that. But if you are open to it being open-ended you will view it differently. Consider going to places off the beaten path. Observe the culture. Notice the trends. If you’re an entrepreneur, for instance, what business could you start there?
You just might find a place you’d rather live that gives you more freedom, more opportunity, more social opportunities, etc.
I agree with what you’ve said!
I think one of the most important things you learn while traveling is to accept different situations not normally experienced “at home”, and be open minded and flexible to what may come. This in turn, gives you a different perspective to life that in a way makes you an interesting person.
I’m glad you share my thoughts! Youth is such an amazing thing and should not be wasted!
Yes, let’s not waste our youth!! Let’s make the most we can with it!
Great article, some good points. Important to realize everyone is different and has different priorities. Many people do not have the financial capacity to travel when they are young, they may be busy paying of student debt, or starting a family, etc…the reasons can be endless. But I agree, it is way better to see the world when you are young
True, there are many reasons to not travel when you’re young, and I had many of them, including student loans… But, beyond that, if you really crave to see the world and have a passion for it, you can find ways to make it happen even with all the constrains life might throw at you.
Exactly! Well put.
I couldn’t agree more, travelling when you’re young is the best time to do it! It’s such a fantastic way to grow up and learn that the world is bigger than your hometown or country! I recommend every young person get out of their hometown and see what’s out there as it is a truly life changing and eye opening experience that completely alters the way you relate to the world and those around you. I agree that we all deserve to have a good time and that young people shouldn’t wait till later in life to start experiencing the world. It’s just a shame that travelling really is a luxury for many and not really an option for a lot of people.
I think another important thing to consider however is that when people talk about having commitments such as a car, mortgage etc. It also has become a lot easier to manage these things from a distance now with the internet. Before if something went wrong with a property a building manager would have had to wait for someone to get back from a vacation, not ideal if it’s a prolonged one. But now I know people that own properties in other countries halfway around the world. People like kids or caretakers as well are much easier to reach via smartphones than waiting to call from a pay phone. This benefits us all and keeps us travelling!